Roma Gaster, Director of The Leadership Circle, discusses the many reasons why women still struggle to get noticed by senior management. Factors like unconscious bias, women not putting themselves forward, under-estimating their performance and also differences in the way men and women communicate, all contribute to why women get overlooked for promotion and pay rises.
The glass ceiling still exists in corporate Australia. We have been discussing it for decades, so what actions can we take to get more recognition, secure pay rises and climb the corporate ladder?
There are many reasons why women still struggle to get noticed by senior management. Factors like unconscious bias, women not putting themselves forward, underestimating their performance and also differences in the way men and women communicate all contribute to why women get overlooked for promotion and pay rises.
Most of these issues need to be addressed at an organisational level, but there are a number of strategies you can use to proactively get noticed and be recognised for your hard work.
Learning how to be more influential at work can help overcome the fallout from unconscious bias. Unconscious bias often affects how women are perceived at work, the value placed on their contributions and the influence they exert over others. However by becoming more influential on workplace outcomes and a having contribution that is valued, the effects of unconscious bias can be minimised.
Men and women communicate very differently which is often the reason why women feel ignored in meetings. There are tactics women can adopt to get more out of conversations with their males colleagues. These include talking less and being more direct in your communication, for instance, avoid talking in circles or telling stories to explain your point. Males are generally bottom-line orientated and will listen more actively if you get to the point quicker.
Don’t underestimate yourself
Research has shown women tend to rate themselves and their performance lower than men in self appraisals. A big part of getting that promotion is being able to ‘sell yourself’ and the value you bring to the organisation. Undertaking a review of your core competencies will give you a clear picture of your strengths and the unique qualities you bring to the business. The next step is learning how to use this information when negotiating for the next step in your career.
Keep your compassion in check
Women are generally more socially sensitive and empathetic than men. While this is generally the preferred leadership style with peers and subordinates, it can be detrimental to being perceived as an effective leader by senior male team members. It’s a push-pull situation many women find frustrating, balancing effectiveness without being seen as ‘soft’ by those above or ‘hard’ by those below. Finding a middle ground is often the best strategy.
Find a mentor
Having a mentor, particularly one from the senior ranks of your organisation, can help overcome the barriers you may face in getting ahead, like biases, past practices and stereotypes. A mentor can help you get connected to the people and information you need, help you get noticed by senior management as well as coach you so you can grow professionally.
About the Author
Roma Gaster is the Director of The Leadership Circle, a unique leadership assessment and development system which builds the competencies and capability of leaders through supporting them to evolve consciousness.
The Leadership Circle provides certification programs, workshops, and support technologies, backed by research, that provide a pathway to evolved and effective leadership. With over 500 consultants in Asia Pacific and clients across all industries, The Leadership Circle is supporting leaders to meet the challenge of escalating complexity by raising awareness and through creative business leadership practises.